WASHINGTON DC — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti met with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Secretary Ben Carson to find solutions for reducing homelessness in the city, Friday. 

The meeting came a day after Garcetti addressed hundreds of mayors at the Annual Winter’s Mayor’s Conference in Washington about the issue. 

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For now, he said he’s optimistic about the renewed relationship between Los Angeles and the Trump administration regarding homelessness, but not without some skepticism.

“Californians are Americans,” said Garcetti. “President Trump and the Trump administration have homeless veterans on the streets of America while he is the president, just as some of us do as we are mayors or governors. I think once that realization comes about, I think people will weaponize less.”

In the last few weeks, the administration conceded it could do little without local cooperation, offering to work closely with local leaders. 

It’s a sharp contrast to President Trump’s tweets from last year where he threatened California officials to “clean up their act” or he would “get involved.” 

“Sometimes California becomes a whipping boy,” said Garcetti. “I don’t think it helps move a single person off the street and that’s why it’s been nice to work so far with the administration willing to step up and help be a partner to the aggressive work we’re doing in California.”

This year, the president has already sent his new homeless czar around California to evaluate conditions. 

Overall, Garcetti said there’s a more positive tone now as he works with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to locate federal lands that can be used for housing the homeless population.

“Get rid of the idea that we can snap our fingers after four decades and solve homelessness overnight, but also get rid of the idea that we cannot solve homelessness,” said Garcetti. “We’ve reduced homelessness by 80 percent for our veterans when our federal government works hand in hand with us; that’s my goal for non-veterans and I will work on that every single day until this is done.”

He said restoring lands to build housing and health service is something on which President Trump and Governor Gavin Newsom can actually agree, as Mayor Garcetti also works to utilize forgotten state properties as well. 

Homelessness spiked in Los Angeles in 2019. Mayor Garcetti said in order to make progress and shrink rates of homelessness, the federal government must work hand-in-hand with money and assistance.